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Aaron Swartz's battle to free the PACER legal document database

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Swartz Memorial Program
Swartz Memorial Program

26-year-old Aaron Swartz died tragically this year amidst threats from federal prosecutors over his involvement with downloading texts from the JSTOR academic collection. Ars Technica takes a look at an earlier effort by Swartz to liberate documents from the legal filing database known as PACER. An acronym for Public Access to Court Electronic Records, PACER lets the public pull US court filings — at a cost (it currently runs 10 cents per page, which can add up rather quickly when combing through lengthy legal documents). PACER also features in a recent profile from Slate, which covers Swartz's ideological evolution from an inquisitive young man to someone who, in the words of his friend Seth Schoen, believed he could "fix the world mainly by carefully explaining it to people." Check out both the Ars Technica article and the Slate profile; you'll be glad you did.